Post #9: Risk Rhetoric

Godfrey’s website exhibits some of the constraints common to risk rhetoric. In their case, the most prominent constraint is the emotionally laden nature of risk topics. Topics like the persistent marginalization of the LGBTQ+ community and its detrimental side effects (to individuals like Matthew Shephard and to larger groups such as the victims of the Pulse shooting) are often difficult to discuss because of their grim nature. Additionally, Godfrey’s wishes to depict itself primarily as a business that offers customers a good time rather than a monument to the atrocities committed against the LGBTQ+ community. This mindset likely played a role in their vague crafting of information on their website (see above photo).

Non-experts serve as the primary audience in this case. The rhetoric on Godfrey’s website appeals to both seasoned drag enthusiasts as well as newcomers to this form of entertainment. Godfrey’s explanation of their history and the history of female illusion in Richmond leaves room for improvement; however, this section provides enough information that non-experts feel acquainted enough with the nature of Godfrey’s to make an informed decision about whether or not to visit the club.

With respect to risk, Godfrey’s makes some effort to enhance their organizational credibility. They describe themselves as existing “long before mainstream media acceptance [of drag] and before the days of reality television like Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” This statement implies that they are not simply participating in a fad or appeasing an audience which, in the contemporary moment, approves of drag or enjoys it as a spectacle. Instead, Godfrey’s asserts that their organization provided a safe space for this art form even before doing so was socially acceptable. By extension, they suggest that their experience in tension-ridden times for the LGBTQ+/drag communities make them qualified to defend patrons as individuals and groups. Additionally, Godfrey’s notes that they strive to be “a space where young people can come together in an environment that is inclusive and safe regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.” Here, the organization contends that they attempt to create a safe space where atrocities against the LGBTQ+ community will (ideally) not occur.

Godfrey’s rhetoric limits participation in the risk assessment process. On their “About Us” page, they include no detailed descriptions of past risks or struggles, simply stating that “Godfrey’s has faced…many challenges over the years.” The crafting of this statement limits audience participation in risk assessment because it does not give audiences a chance to collect specific information about the history of Godfrey’s, risks they previously faced, and risks they may face in the future. By excluding any positive or negative history, the organization does not present information in ways that allow audiences to make fully informed decisions about risks.

Post #8: Rhetoric about Issues

For this post, I will continue my analysis of the Godfrey’s website with a specific focus on their “Our Story” page. This can be found at the following address:

Rhetorical Situation:

  • Current attitudes about the LGBTQ+ community offer both opportunities and challenges for Godfrey’s. The lack of acceptance of LGBTQ+ lifestyles in the American south (and beyond) results in members of these communities feeling rejected and isolated. Some may even feel that visiting a place like Godfrey’s is a risk to their safety based on events like the Pulse Nightclub shooting of 2016. In this midst of this tension, Godfrey’s enters the market as a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to come together, express themselves, and enjoy fun performances and other events. Godfrey’s utilizes the opportunity created within this context to a degree, particularly when they assert that Godfrey’s allows visitors of 18 years old and over because they “believe that our youth are so vulnerable to self-doubt and low self-worth that RVA needs a space where young people can come together in an environment that is inclusive and safe regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. We hope Godfrey’s is that space.” Despite this, Godfrey’s could expand upon their efforts of inclusion on their website with specific references to contemporary attitudes about LGBTQ+ individuals (both positive and negative). This would add credibility to the organization and imply a level of urgency about the situation at hand.
  • Functional audiences and normative audiences are the most appropriate target in this situation. Functional audiences, which “help the organization function on a day-to-day basis,” would consist of prospective and current customers (Ford & Hoffman 66). Additionally, normative audiences, which “are composed of individuals in organizations that face similar challenges,” are also relevant in Godfrey’s website (Ford & Hoffman 66). Their rhetoric addresses these audiences because it entices them to visit the club and creates a sense of solidarity among other organizations which, like Godfrey’s, strive to provide safe spaces for members of marginalized communities.
  • The current political climate of the American south (which encompasses Godfrey’s location in Richmond, Virginia) might make it more difficult for them to answer the exigencies because many conservatives reject the LGBTQ+ community and their expression through means like drag performances at Godfrey’s.


  • The organization portrays itself as qualified to speak about LGBTQ+ issues by noting their founding in 1997 and their status as “a mainstay of Richmond entertainment and diversity.” These statements build Godfrey’s credibility because they assert that they have support in their communities and have acquired wisdom on the topic throughout their 20 years of business.
  • Godfrey’s “Our Story” page does not reflect the voices of functional audiences; however, they illustrate the influence of normative audiences because they assert that some of their events reflect the needs of charitable organizations. They state that “From Breast Cancer, to the Victims of the Massacre at Pulse, Orlando, giving back are some of the most rewarding experiences that we have. We thank everyone that have contributed to success of these events.” Here, Godfrey’s notes the influential nature of normative audiences on their events.
  • Their “Our Story” page states, “Godfrey’s has had many successes and challenges over the years, but through it all we have strived to be a place of diversity, inclusion, and just plain fun for the RVA community.” This declaration implies that Godfrey’s previously dealt with issues related to their status as an LGBTQ+-friendly organization; however, they provide no further details on this important background information.
  • Godfrey’s appears to conceal and de-emphasize information when they refrain from giving details about the hardships which they endured. Describing these issues might build credibility by showing the organization’s ability to overcome.

Post #7: Identity Creation and Maintenance Rhetoric

1) Several identity strategies of organizational rhetoric are present on the homepage of Godrey’s website.

a. The organization employs association when use their mission statement to connect themselves with “excellence in hospitality, entertainment, and community involvement,” which are all viewed as generally positive things. In addition, the rainbow-colored banner near the top of the page is intentionally similar to the symbol of rainbows as LGBTQ+ equality and pride. Thus, Godfrey’s associates themselves with this symbol and asserts that their business is a safe place for members of this marginalized community.

b. Godfrey’s also uses differentiation on their homepage in their unofficial mission statement, which notes that they have been in business for twenty years. Their noting of their organizational age is significant because it suggests that they have been around longer than other clubs and are thus better qualified to provide positive experiences for visitors.

c. Several elements of branding are visible on Godfrey’s homepage. The picture of a drag queen featured at the top of the page suggests that Godfrey’s prides themselves on their extravagant performances. Additionally, the rainbow banner near the top of the page advocates for equality in the LGBTQ+ community and asserts that Godfrey’s is an inclusive organization.

d. These strategies help audiences focus on the critical aspects of Godfrey’s identity because they note what is important enough for the organization to put on their website’s homepage. Since the homepage is generally the first thing visitors to the website see, conveying a sense of pride in their over-the-top performers and a feeling of inclusion reveals that these are central to experiences at Godfrey’s.

e. Social media is the most prominent channel of delivery for Godfrey’s. A glimpse at the organization’s Instagram presence (through the filtered hashtags #godfreysrva and #godfreysva) contributes to identity creation because the website features customers’ voices and experiences. By showcasing the rhetoric created by audiences for audiences (instead of the organization’s carefully-executed messages), Godfrey’s creates an identity as an organization which values the input and satisfaction of audiences.

f. Godfrey’s is already regarded as an inclusive organization for members of the oft-marginalized LGBTQ+ community. To maintain this identity across time and advance their own goals, the organization might consider drawing upon current events (such as the recent switch to a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court) and asserting that Godfrey’s remains a safe space even during tense political climates.

2) Godfrey’s rhetoric emerges from a complex rhetorical situation. On one hand, many pro-LGBTQ+ individuals celebrate their extravagant and risqué performances in the contemporary context of more accepting and inclusive society; however, the general political values of the Southern U.S. (which encompasses Godfrey’s location in Richmond, Virginia) and the conservative majority in the federal government often oppose marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ freedoms. Godfrey’s strives to offer a safe place for those in the LGBTQ+ community as well as an enjoyable, lighthearted experience for visitors from all backgrounds.

a. This situation calls predominantly for identity maintenance rhetoric. Since Godfrey’s is a 20 year-old organization, their identity is largely complete; however, the organization understands the importance of maintaining this identity when the rights of the overall LGBTQ+ community are questioned.

b. Target audiences for this situation include LGBTQ+ individuals looking for safe but fun time as well as supporters of the LGBTQ+ community and this form of expression.

c. In this rhetoric, Godfrey’s faces the constraint of needing consistency. During tumultuous times in the United States, they must maintain their credibility as an organization despite criticism from conservatives and ensure that their business is a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community in the wake of tragedies such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Post #6: Revising Organizational Messages

For this post, I will revise the organizational messages put out by Godfrey’s in Richmond, Virginia.

On their website, Godfrey’s presents their information in ways that sufficiently allow the audience to make informed decisions. Godfrey’s staff is the primary speaker on their website; however, patrons of the club also have a voice in the #GodfreysVA Instagram feed located on the homepage. Through featuring patrons’ experiences on their website, Godfrey’s allows them to engage in their own discourse about their experience. The website represents the interests of those internal to the organization (employees) as well as those external (prospective, past, and current visitors). These interests include the success of the club, the welcoming environment it offers, and the excitement of the drag shows performed within. The photos on the top banner provide a preview of what the performances entail and offer a glimpse at the culture that exists within the club. The photos under the “Drag Brunch” and “Drag Dinner” sections serve a similar purpose. All of these strive to entice prospective visitors into coming to performances or events.

Unfortunately, some crucial components of Godfrey’s history and culture are excluded from this rhetoric. The “Our Story” section of the site states, “Godfrey’s has had many successes and challenges over the years, but through it all we have strived to be a place of diversity, inclusion, and just plain fun for the RVA community.” This is vague and seems like a missed opportunity to build organizational credibility. For example, including details about some of the struggles the club has faced throughout their time in Richmond may foster a sense of respect for their perseverance in the face of adversity. Additionally, the “Our Story” page seems to group a lot of information into one section, making it somewhat overwhelming for readers. Godfrey’s might consider revising this into several different pages such as “History,” “Policies,” and “Staff.” Additionally, written testimonials from Godfrey’s visitors would likely build the organization’s ethos because, unlike the Instagram photos already featured, these are almost always written as reflections after leaving the club rather than in the moment (like the Instagram post would be). The Instagram photos are useful because they show the excitement visitors feel and their desire to promote their experiences in the moment; however, testimonials would assert that going to Godfrey’s is a lingering positive experience. Lastly, none of the “Night Life” sections display any photos from these events. This absence of visuals suggests that the events are not worth photographing and, by extension, dull (especially in comparison with Drag Brunch and Drag Dinner). Adding visuals to these sections would capture more interest in these events.

Post #5: Critical Approaches to the Organizational Rhetoric of Planned Parenthood

In continuing my analysis of Planned Parenthood’s organizational rhetoric, I will take a critical approach to examine my artifacts. Most of my artifacts can be found on this page:

The larger social issue conveyed in Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric is the importance of access to reproductive healthcare, including (but definitely NOT limited to) abortion. In their abortion-related materials, Planned Parenthood conveys a message of compassion, education, and flexibility. They exhibit compassion in their assertion that abortions are common, safe, and may be right for different people at different times. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of education because they provide all necessary information for prospective abortion patients on their website. Lastly, they assert the importance of flexibility by educating audiences about both options for abortion: taking pills or undergoing an in-clinic procedure. To analyze this in my larger project, I will employ ideological criticism to discover what ideologies and values Planned Parenthood promotes in their rhetoric.

Based on my viewings of the artifacts thus far, Planned Parenthood’s messages meet it needs because they educate audiences about the resources available to women seeking reproductive healthcare. Through the use of phrases like “considering an abortion,” “deciding if abortion is the right choice for you,” and “no pressure, no judgment,” they present a culture that is inviting, understanding of the individual patient’s needs, and wants to help through whatever means are appropriate for them. This treatment of a sensitive topic builds Planned Parenthood’s ethos because they promote what is right for the individual instead of simply pushing abortion–contrary to conservative stereotypes about their mission.

Audiences for this rhetoric include prospective patients, existing patients, and skeptics. Planned Parenthood addresses prospective and existing patients by educating them on the resources and services available at their clinics. Additionally, they consider the widely varying needs among this group by not insisting that abortion is or is not the right choice. Rhetoric addressed towards these patients implies that Planned Parenthood respects all points of view and wishes to accommodate all women’s beliefs when proceeding with their pregnancies. Planned Parenthood also addresses skeptics like anti-choice advocates by dismissing common myths about abortion (namely that it is unsafe or unethical). Their inclusion of this rhetoric suggests that they wish to dispel rumors about the procedure and ensure a comfortable experience for all involved. Additionally, Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric makes several assumptions. Primarily, their message assumes that all employees of the organization are ready, willing, and able to help women with their reproductive decisions. With this, the organization also assumes a universal understanding that all patients require different needs and that those needs will be accommodated regardless of personal beliefs about what a patient should do.

Visual rhetoric plays a vital role in Planned Parenthood’s content. On the “Abortion Information” page, the first image at the top of the screen is of two joined hands, which signify compassion and understanding during difficult times (such as facing an unplanned pregnancy). The shades of blue that appear throughout the organization’s logos and graphic design are calming colors which imply neutrality and a sense of ease. Additionally, the images serve as evidence of Planned Parenthood’s compassion. The photograph of the sign which reads “Care. No matter what” invite women from a myriad of circumstances to seek assistance with the organization. A similar example occurs in the photograph of the smiling doctor next to the text, “You can come to us, no matter what.” The woman’s demeanor suggests a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for all patients of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric represents the interests of the company, its patients, and pro-choice advocates. The company’s interests–to provide reproductive healthcare to women in need–are most obviously addressed because the website’s rhetoric advocates for seeking help from them. Patients’ interests are also acknowledged when Planned Parenthood promises a culture of empathy, flexibility, and safety for all who enter their facilities. Lastly, pro-choice advocates’ interests are represented because the website promotes abortion as a safe and ethical procedure that is right for some people in some situations.

The goal of my study of Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric is to contribute to conversations about their value in contemporary society. During a time when conservative anti-choice critics often question the morality of the organization, their rhetoric asserts that they exist to help women, not harm them. Additionally, their rhetoric dismisses the idea that abortion is the only service provided by Planned Parenthood. The group offers comprehensive reproductive healthcare for men and women, and their rhetoric advertises this fact.

Post #4: Rhetorical Situation of Planned Parenthood

This post aims to examine the rhetorical situation for Planned Parenthood and my chosen artifact, the “Abortion Information” web page.

  1. Planned Parenthood’s exigencies lie in the current political climate of the United States which threatens women’s reproductive rights. Challenges faced by the organization include opposition from right-wing politicians and anti-choice groups, convincing the general public that abortion is safe, moral, and should remain legal, and educating women in crisis about the resources available to them. Anti-choice arguments are not new in the American political climate; however, current attitudes about abortion are marked by a degree of urgency given that conservative anti-choice politicians currently dominate the federal government.
  2. The most appropriate target for Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric is a diffused audience, which is “removed further from the organization, yet still have an interest and potential influence” (Ford and Hoffman 66). Potential clients of Planned Parenthood, pro-choice advocates, and feminists are all separate from the organization itself but have a say in how it proceeds.
  3. Constraints include widespread skepticism about the ethics and safety of Planned Parenthood, the spreading of misinformation about the services they provide (namely the conception that they only provide abortions instead of comprehensive sexual healthcare), and general nervousness about the procedure and its effects. Past rhetoric includes anti-choice materials that condemn Planned Parenthood as an organization of “baby killers.”
  4. The rhetorical situation surrounding issues rhetoric is similar to the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood. In this case, the issues are a lack of information about abortion services and the spreading of misinformation and hatred by anti-choice groups.

Post #3: Identifying Organizations’ Rhetorical Strategies


For this post, I will identify the rhetorical strategies used by Planned Parenthood on their webpage about abortion services. The artifact’s medium of delivery is the Planned Parenthood website, which has numerous pages on topics relevant to sexual health and information about available resources.


Here, Planned Parenthood makes effective appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. The organization creates ethos by referring to their staff as “professional and caring” and able to “give you all the straight-up information you need to help you make the right decision for you. No pressure, no judgment. Just support.” These descriptors and statements construct ethos because they present employees as flexible and able to handle a variety of patients with different backgrounds. Similarly, these statements appeal to pathos because they foster a sense of comfort within audience members. By promising an environment free of pressure and judgment, prospective patients feel more at ease during the stressful process of considering an abortion. Lastly, Planned Parenthood evokes logos by offering links to other resources on the facts of abortion. They have a Frequently Asked Questions section as well as two sections on the abortion pill and in-clinic abortions, respectively.

Post #2: Idea Proposal

For my Analysis of Organizational Rhetoric paper, I will analyze women’s health organization and reproductive rights advocacy group Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides sexual health services for men and women in the United States and globally. Most notably, they receive frequent criticism for providing abortion services to women who wish to terminate their pregnancies. I wish to write on this organization because its mission is threatened by the current Republican administration, which likely changes the delivery and content of their rhetoric. Audiences of this organization’s rhetoric include prospective and existing clients of Planned Parenthood, pro-choice individuals who are concerned with the anti-choice political climate often present in contemporary society, and those interested in the study of how organizations use rhetoric to convey messages and ideas.

Understanding the rhetoric produced by Planned Parenthood benefits scholars because the organization’s mission is a highly-debated topic in modern politics. I wish to study how their messages change depending upon the administration in power and how they use rhetoric to cope with criticism from anti-choice protesters. Preliminary observations about the organization’s messages include emphases on self-education about various sexual health topics, the importance of reproductive freedom, the Trump administration as the enemy of reproductive healthcare, and accessibility of the organization’s services to a wide variety of people.


My name is Karyn Keane, and I am a junior at Longwood University. I am an English major with a concentration in Rhetoric and Professional Writing and a minor in Children’s Literature. My academic interests range from pop culture to rhetorical studies to social justice, but my primary focus lies in composition and rhetoric. I plan to pursue a PhD in this field with the eventual goal of becoming a college professor. My previous coursework in Rhetoric and Professional Writing includes History of Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric and Document Design, and Rhetorical Criticism.


This blog documents my experience in ENGL 305: Advanced Topics in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. In this particular semester, this course focuses on Organizational Rhetoric. My blog will accordingly explore how professional groups use rhetorical principles to communicate effectively, both internally (within the group) and externally (to the public). I plan to focus specifically on higher education institutions and their uses of rhetoric. This blog may prove useful to students of rhetoric who wish to explore the field in a unique and professional context or to professionals aiming to better understand communication. The context of this blog relates to my interest in higher education and the necessity of all organizations to effectively communicate.